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Title:Tropical Technology and Mass Production: The Expansion of Cuban Sugarmills, 1899-1929
Author(s):Dye, Alan Dale
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Neal, Larry
Department / Program:Economics
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):History, Latin American
Economics, Commerce-Business
Economics, History
Abstract:This study focuses on the raw sugar producers of Cuba, and the process of adoption of new technologies during the period 1899-1930. The underlying theme is that the enormous technical changes in the sugar industry in Cuba during the early twentieth century were derived from new high-throughput technologies which characterized most progressive industries of that time and heralded the transition from traditional owner-operated enterprises to modern administrative forms of business organization. As concerns the process of adoption of new technologies, the study argues that remarkable growth in the capacities of mills was in response to an increase in economies of scale. The scale economies that induced the adoption of larger scales were obtained by improving the continuity of flow of materials from activity to activity within the sugarmill.
Besides the growth in the capacities of mills, there was also considerable variation in the capacities of mills in operation in Cuba at any one time. The study shows that the variation can be described by two different influences. First, examination of the pattern of expansion of mill capacities over time can be explained by vintage capital effects tempered by the influence of adjustment costs to the investment in the mill and canefields. However, examination of the data show that these effects cannot explain all of the variation. There was also structural variation in mill capacities related to the geographical location of mills on the island. The mills in the western part of the island, where the sugar industry had existed in the nineteenth century, were on average smaller than the mills in the eastern part of the island. Empirical analysis, using both simple statistical techniques and formal econometric panel data techniques, shows that the regional variation in average mill capacities was related to the technical and institutional differences between the eastern and western parts of the island. These differences suggest an advantage of the eastern part of the island, where the sugar industry was newer, over the western part of the island, where the sugar industry was older, in the ease of adopting large-scale technologies.
Issue Date:1991
Description:248 p.
Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 1991.
Other Identifier(s):(UMI)AAI9210791
Date Available in IDEALS:2014-12-17
Date Deposited:1991

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